Is culture a problem for social psychology ? Yoshihisa Kashima

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Culture has been regarded as an anathema to psychology as an empiricist research tradition. Despite the explosive growth of research on culture and psychology over the last decade of the 20th century and its importance in Asian social psychology, the ontological and epistemological tension between psychology as a science and psychology as a cultural/historical discipline introduced in the writings of the thinkers of the Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment still lingers on in the contemporary discourse of psychology. Clifford Geertz once ominously suggested that cultural psychology may have chewed more than it can. In the present paper, the interpretive turn in social science as exemplified by writings of Charles Taylor and Paul Ricoeur is reviewed and how it may impinge on the practice of Asian social psychology as an empirical science in methodological, epistemological, and ontological respects is discussed. It is argued here that the current practice of Asian social psychology is largely, though not entirely, free of the challenges mounted by these theorists, and that Asian social psychology has an advantage of not being encumbered by this traditional tension due to a monist ontology that is prevalent in Asia

Author-supplied keywords

  • culture
  • epistemology
  • indigenous psychology
  • interpretive approach

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  • Yoshihisa Kashima

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